(Reuters) — Amazon.com is providing increased pay to recruit its personal warehouse workers to choose and pack Whole Foods groceries amid rising demand and a employee scarcity, in keeping with an inside doc reviewed by Reuters.

This transfer, often called labor sharing, highlights how the ecommerce large is reallocating a few of its huge workforce to deal with a spike in on-line gross sales of groceries, as hundreds of thousands of American are caught at house amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Amazon gives on-line grocery providers by way of Amazon Fresh from its personal grocery warehouses, and Amazon Prime Now, which delivers from its Whole Foods shops.

“The Prime Now business has seen a mass increase in volume and is now offering labor share opportunities,” Amazon stated in a message despatched to warehouse staff in Maryland, which was reviewed by Reuters. Workers in different states the place Amazon operates grocery providers have obtained comparable communications, together with California, Nevada, and Tennessee.

Employees who’re chosen to make the swap could make $19 per hour, a $2 elevate on prime of the pay hike Amazon introduced earlier this month. Amazon Fresh positions require working in a freezer setting, whereas a Prime Now shopper function entails selecting and packing merchandise for on-line orders in a Whole Foods retailer underneath tight deadlines.

Amazon offers higher pay to lure warehouse employees to Whole Foods grocery unit

“As we continue to see a significant increase in demand for grocery orders, we are offering temporary opportunities for associates across our fulfillment network to provide additional support,” an Amazon spokesperson stated on late Friday, confirming the motion.

Amazon has been doubling down on the grocery trade since its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017. It has expanded grocery supply service to over 2,000 cities. Free for Prime subscribers, AmazonFresh and Amazon Prime Now tout fast supply inside hours.

Since the outbreak, grocery supply has turn out to be a lifeline for folks to get family staples whereas making an attempt to keep away from stepping exterior. Grocery buyers on Amazon have steadily seen gadgets out of inventory and supply home windows unavailable as the corporate struggles to fulfill the rising demand. It has introduced the hiring of 100,000 full and part-time positions throughout the U.S. in success and supply networks, together with in AmazonFresh and Whole Foods supply.

So far, coronavirus has unfold to a minimum of 17 Amazon warehouses within the U.S., prompting staff and lawmakers to query if sufficient security measures have been taken to guard workers on the frontlines.

Grocery shops are competing for staff to satisfy on-line orders. Walmart, with a quick rising on-line grocery enterprise, plans to rent 150,000 workers at shops, distribution and success facilities by way of May.

“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in the use of online grocery shopping,” stated Bill Bishop, co-founder of Brick Meets Click. “Amazon eventually wants to be one of the very dominant distributors of grocery in the United States, and I think they’re looking at this as a period when they’ve got a chance to ramp that up by actions like this.”

(Reporting by Krystal Hu; enhancing by Vanessa O’Connell, Steve Orlofsky and Diane Craft)